Review by Choice Review
Independent scholar Bom studies the extent to which and the reasons why women were admitted to the military orders, focusing in particular on the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (the Hospitallers). Her study makes a number of important points, the most significant of which are, first, those orders that drew their inspiration from the Rule of St. Augustine (the Hospitallers, for example) were more accepting of women than those that drew their inspiration from the Rule of St. Benedict (the Templars, for example); secondly, in the case of the Hospitallers, the fact that the military focus of the order developed in the aftermath of its charitable focus explains the seeming contradiction of women becoming members of a "military" order. The book comprises seven chapters covering the 12th and 13th centuries and situating the Hospitallers in the context of other military orders. It is thorough and cautious in its approach and clearly written; there is a noticeable, welcome absence of the jargon that has marred many a study. This lucid book makes an important contribution to the understanding of the military orders. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. T. J. H. McCarthy New College of Florida
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